Sony VPL-VW1000ES Home Cinema Projector - Review Summary
The Sony VPL-VW1000ES (click for specifications) receives our Hot Product award. The latest and top of the line Sony projector home cinema projector, sports true 4K resolution, excellent 2K to 4K upscaling, plus really good quality 3D. And skin tones look nice and natural.
Sadly, this is not a projector for the masses. It's $24,999 price reserves it for the top 5% or is that the top 1%, or one of us fanatics, who can just decide to buy a Ford Focus next time, instead of a Lexus.
6/3/12 - Art Feierman
Sony VPL-VW1000ES Projector - The Bottom Line
When the VPL-VW1000ES (click for specifications) arrived, I had great expectations. Over a month later, I'm not in the least disappointed. 4K is an obvious next step for projectors in the home. We can use the extra resolution.
This is simply the best projector I've ever worked with, and that's on several levels. 4K, 3D, all the rest, and a killer picture, earn the Sony VPL-VW1000ES Projector Reviews 2012 Outstanding Product of the Year.
Above, our 4K city at night image (again). Click on it, for a cropped, larger image for close inspection of the high true 4K resolution. For this photo shoot, although we resized the larger image back to 1000 pixels wide, but we shot it at my camera's maximum 18 megapixel file size, and then resized. For normal photo shoots we have typically used only 4.5 megapixel images. This is the first projector that needs the higher resolution to really see the improvement.
Take all the benefits of a true 4K engine, and whether you have true 4K content, or even just the Sony's ability to upscale 2K, you immediately have a sharper, clearer looking image that can be viewed closer without visible artifacts than any projector before it, for the home.
Think of the VPL-VW1000ES projector as a true Cinema projector. It may not be as bright, but in several ways, including black level performance, it should easily exceed the performance of Sony's 4K commercial cinema projectors that most of us have encountered in our movie theater experiences.
In fact one area where the digital cinema projectors in theaters have always had a visual advantage, has been due to their using the DCI (Digital Cinema Initiative) color space, instead of the REC 709 or SMPTE-C standards, which have less dynamic range.
The VPL-VW1000ES supports DCI as well as the more common home formats, now all we need is DCI content to be made available. A couple of years ago, SIM2 had partnered with a company that hoped to get licensing to distribute DCI versions, but nothing has yet come of that. We shall see in time whether users can take advantage of the DCI support.
Image above, from one of those National Parks Blu-rays
Everything about this Sony projector is pretty elegant. That is to say that none of the "fancy" controls such as CFI which Sony calls MotionFlow, are rough around the edges, rather they all seem to be pretty smooth. On the whole, the projector itself seems to lack any rough edges too.
It's getting a little old, repeating superlatives, but truth is, this Sony is hard to beat at anything.
Brightness: The 1200 lumens of calibrated brightness is a real treat (remember we don't measure to find the absolute brightest a projector is capable of, only what looks good).
Above: Star Trek's Captain Pike
This means for 2D viewing you can have pretty much as big a screen as you would like. 120" diagonal, even 140" diagonal or 150", and you can still have movie theater level brightness. Remember though there isn't a whole lot more available in modes that aren't as perfect as the calibrated Reference mode.
Above: Bruce Willis in RED
If there is one shortcoming to this projector, it's probably that for 3D viewing it could use more lumens (boy does that sound familiar as I've said that about all but 4 or 5 3D capable projectors. While this Sony isn't as bright in 3D as some Epsons and the Panasonic, few projectors short of some far more expensive 3 chip DLP projectors for home, can do any brighter for 3D. Still, I find 3D brightness to be fully acceptable for say a 100" diagonal screen - far brighter than you'll find in a 3D theater at your local cineplex.
Above: From Quantum of Solace
Reality Creation is the star new control. This is the 2K to 4K upscaling control, and it makes a real difference. Images look sharper, without the artifacts associated with dynamic sharpnening. This is real extra resolution.
In about a week from now (June '12), Sony will release their app for the Playstation that will allow us to view 4K images in full 4K. It's likely going to be a close thing - that release, and my returning this Sony. Hope the app hits first. I took a lot of photos on our family driving trip through the southwest, with using my pro dSLR. I'd really love to see how they look projected with this Sony.
Back to the VW1000ES.
Black levels surprised me. Even better than I anticipated. When that iris shuts all the way down on a totally dark scene, things do go black.
CFI (MotionFlow) is nicely smooth. I watched NBA playoff games with the CFI set to Low and High.
Above: From The Fifth Element, Below: Red
Ultimately, this is one really fine projector. No previously reviewed projector, which is a lot of projectors and includes a few Runco's and a SIM2, can take on this projector. I'm still watching it (Iron Man 2 just finishing, as I finish this page).
I really can't get over the "whatever" - the combination of the 4K pixels and the Sony's upscaling, to the clarity/sharpness/crispness of the projector even on 2K content. Friends of my daughter were just blown away, a couple of hours ago, when they got to view the first 15 minutes of Hugo in 3D. But 2D is equally dazzling thanks to the benefit of a real 4K engine.
Perhaps Sony will let me keep it a bit longer, after all I did just award the VPL-VW1000ES projector our 2012 Outstanding Product of the Year award. Deservedly so!
Sony VPL-VW1000ES Projector: Pros and Cons
Image above, from The Fifth Element, Blu-ray disc
Sony VPL-VW1000ES Projector: Pros
- Excellent overall picture quality, natural color and skin tones
- Superb black level performance with a very smooth iris
- True 4K resolution, capable of displaying 4K content
- 2K-4K upscaling
- Extremely good 3D image quality
- Impressively bright 1200 lumens post calibration
- 2.1:1 zoom lens, with extensive lens shift
- Excellent placement flexibility
- Zoom, Focus, Lens shift, are all motorized
- Lens Memory - to easily support using a 2.35:1 or other "Cinemascope" shaped screens
- Supports anamorphic lens (with or without sled)
- Wide variety of color presets, gamma and other features
- Very good menu layout
- Very good documentation
- Very quiet projector
- Classy, outstanding, high performance projector
Sony VPL-VW1000ES Projector: Cons
- Could be a little brighter for 3D - A statement I've said about almost every 3D projector so far. In fairness, this is the brightest 3D capable home theater projector anywhere near its price, that we've reviewed to date, although there are some twice as bright for 1/3 the price, but lower picture quality
- Lamp life - Sony makes no official claim, but indicate that lamp life is in the 2000-3000 lumen range, with the longer life being on low power mode.
- Projector lamp pricing is more expensive than most, at $699
- Shadow detail is adequate, not as good as many other projectors across all price ranges
- Higher than most in terms of operational costs for the reasons above, but then, if you can afford this Sony, you can handle the extra cost
- Lacks masking (but does provide Overscan) for images with edge noise (not uncommon with standard TV signals, on rarer occasions with HDTV.
- Sony needs more comfortable 3D glasses - lighter weight is key!
Above, from Tahiti 3D (2D version)
That's all folks!
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